Almost Flawless Victory
Posted 2 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
Whenever the word “reboot” gets heard, most gamers raise an eyebrow wondering if its nothing but marketing banter or the real deal. In the case of Mortal Kombat, it was certainly one of few golden age franchises that needed it the most. Even though the last MK title went the Marvel vs Capcom route - with MK vs DC Universe - and did bring something interesting to the genre, we’ve all wondered if it was the death throws of the once shocking and controversial game series. Let’s face it, the final MK titles during the last generation of consoles weren’t exactly great.
Two years have passed since the official announcement of a new Mortal Kombat game. Does it succeed at saving the highly-popular fighting series and elevating it to the highs previously attained by the very first two Arcade outings? Yes...oh dear lord, yes!
As in each Mortal Kombat game, there’s a story to be had in this new entry. Here, the first three MK games are merged into one multi-hour retelling where players fight their way to alter the events of the past in an attempt to save Earthrealm’s dark future at the hands of Shao Kahn. With fierce bouts intertwined with gorgeous CG cinematics, the story mode won’t deliver any surprises to the hardcore MK fan, but newcomers will find something informative, pleasant and fun despite being corny and cheesy. Fortunately, Ed Boon and his team over at NetherRealm Studios went beyond delivering a story and brought back several gameplay modes introduced in previous entries while premiering new elements as well.
Going with a stylized 2D presentation and breathtaking remakes of classic levels featured in previous titles is both awesome and welcomed, but MK veterans will first realize how smooth and precise the fighting mechanics have become. Each character has its own set of moves and special attacks, but also deadly combos requiring serious timing in order to be effective. There’s 27 in total - including the two unlockable characters upon the story mode’s completion. PS3 users have a 28th: the God of War himself, Kratos. Mortal Kombat also sees the introduction of a tiered power meter (something similar to the one in Street Fighter IV) that fills up when giving and receiving damage, pushing players to carefully plan their attacks rather than subsequently pulling the same move to emerge victorious. Divided in three sections, the gauge can be depleted at any time during the fight provided the marked segments are filled. The first section enhances any special move. So instead of seeing Johnny Cage throw one green fireball, he will throw two. Filling up the meter and spending the first two sections will enable a combo breaker. Finally, using the complete gauge enables a devastating attack in X-ray view that will inflict significant damage to the poor opponent as his bones and organs are getting brutally crunched. Be careful not to miss or it will put you in a bad vulnerable position. Its still unknown if players will start organizing Mortal Kombat tourneys the same way they do with Street Fighter, but the system in place has been perfected in such a way that it’s no longer laughable or questionable.
Obviously, a Mortal Kombat game wouldn’t be complete without Fatalities and they’re back in full force. Classics or new ones, they remain extremely fullfilling and easier to pull off this time around. The game even features a Fatality Tutorial, teaching players the button combinations as well as the approximate location where it needs to be executed. Oh, and Babalities are also back...
Want more? Ladder Play returns as well, offering players the good old arcade-styled feel from back in the day with Shang Tsung, Goro or Kintaro and Shao Kahn awaiting them at the top in either solo or as a pair in the new Tag Team option, another Tournament-geared novelty. Switching partners at anytime, pulling support moves or an amazing cooperative combo, its all nicely executed without a single hitch. The good old “Test Your Might” and “Test Your Sight” are no longer mini-games embedded between fights, but now full-fledged modes with their own ladders. New ones, such as “Test Your Strike” and “Test Your Luck”, are also introduced. Of course, in order to have access to all challenges featured in each ladder, the new Challenge Tower needs to be tackled first. An eight to ten hour experience, the Challenge Tower packs 300 (!) challenges made of variations of standard fights and the “Test Your” mini-games. The first missions come as simple defensive/offensive tutorials but they later become challenging - on top of being hilarious - inviting players to put everything they’ve learned in practice. Stopping a horde of angry Tarkatans (i.e Baraka’s species) from getting to you or fighting a headless zombie stunt...trust me, it gets crazier and much more difficult as you ascend the tower. Whether its a completed challenge or fight victories in Arcade or Story mode, players get rewarded with Koins, MK’s in-game currency, which can later be spent in the Krypt where hundreds of items are waiting to be unlocked from concept art and alternate costumes to hidden fatalities. Surfing through the Kyrpt isn’t the most friendly interface ever conceived, but it gets the job done. I may be part of a very small group of people that actually doesn’t care about unlocking concept art, but it would have been nice to unlock something else like additional levels. Just saying...
Despite a few connectivity issues, Mortal Kombat’s set of online features are solid and offers lots of possibilities to Xbox Live/Playstation Network Kombatants, provided users own a new copy or bought the mandatory Kombat Pass for pre-owned copies. When not in standard Ranked/Private/Player matches, lobbies with chat capabilities can be joined or created. From there, players can send fight challenges.The obvious player stats and leaderboards are also available for viewing. Additionally, Mortal Kombat sports a new online feature called King of the Hill, which is basically an ode to the old wait-in-line coin-up experience. Only available in Player and Private matches, up to eight fighters can join a room and spectate ongoing matches. Those who are waiting for their turn to pick a fight against the winner can express themselves via emotes.
After several hours of gameplay - even too much to the say of certain friends - I can safely say that NetherRealm Studios brings the most complete, satisfying and challenging MK game ever created to gamers everywhere. Bloody, gory, ridiculous...no matter how hard you try to put it down, you will soon find yourself picking it back up. It immerses players in ways few fighting games - aside maybe from the last Capcom console outing - have ever done before. A tour de force!
+ The best fighting mechanics in the series
+ X-ray moves are simply amazing
+ Incredible replay value, both online and offline
- Krypt isn’t the most surfing-friendly UI ever conceived
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Release Date : 2011/04/19
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Warner Games
Developer : NetherRealm Studios
Category : Fighting & Wrestling
ESRB : M
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